The state of Oregon has contracted with Periscope Holdings, a developer of e-procurement systems based in Austin, Texas, to create a new statewide procurement platform, OregonBuys, set to launch in 2020.
Based on the company’s BuySpeed e-procurement system, OregonBuys will standardize the procurement process across all state agencies, automate some of the associated tasks, and track and manage government purchases of goods and services.
Elizabeth Craig, a spokeswoman for the Oregon Department of Administrative Services, told Government Technology that Oregon has been working toward this idea for years. She said the state issued an RFP for an end-to-end e-procurement solution in January 2016, consulting with several vendors and finally giving Periscope Holdings a five-year contract in August 2016.
Craig said the state’s approximately 85 agencies have been using a manual RFP process up to this point, which is no longer ideal for several reasons: It varies a bit from one agency to another, takes more time than some of today’s automated solutions, and doesn’t collect enterprise-wide data that can be useful for studying trends and making strategic purchase decisions. She credited Gov. Kate Brown with pushing staff in 2015 to find a new e-procurement system, seeing it as a potential cost-saver.
“[OregonBuys] will help us to look at how we’re spending and where we’re spending in a much more detailed way,” Craig said. “With that, there will be much more accountability at the agency level, and then we’ll be able to identify if we’ve missed any opportunities, or figure out how we might be able to save money. We haven’t had a really clear picture, at the statewide level, of spending across agencies, so with this new system, with the reporting and data we’ll be able to capture, we’ll be able to identify areas where we may be able to save money by negotiating contract terms.”
Built on new technology but a familiar concept, OregonBuys isn’t the first of its kind. Periscope Holdings CEO Brian Utley said the underlying platform, Periscope Marketplace, launched in August as an updated, revamped version of the company’s old marketplace. He called it “new technology, [with a] new look and feel, and it’s a new back end on how you manage data for shopping,” but said it resembles the company’s RFP solutions already in place in Illinois, New Jersey and Massachusetts.
Utley said a clearer distinction is between Periscope Marketplace solutions and private-sector e-procurement systems, which tend not to work for government clients, he said, because there are so many legal requirements unique to the public sector. He said the goal of this upgrade was to create a consumer-like shopping environment for government, including transparency and ease-of-use.
“The difference in government is, you can’t just shop … because you have to have contract vehicles, or a contract with a vendor to do business,” Utley said. “So we built a consumer-type shopping environment, but on the back end it has the rules that government has to live by … And we load all the different cooperatives in the country that government can buy from into the marketplace, so when you’re shopping in Oregon, you can see your contracts as a state, but you can also see other state contracts and other cooperatives that you can legally buy from.”
Craig said the first phase of the OregonBuys launch consists of replacing the Oregon Procurement Information Network (ORPIN), the state’s current system, which will take place in spring 2020. The second phase will implement the full procure-to-pay functionality — automating everything from workflows and approvals to solicitations, bid submission, purchase orders, invoicing and reporting — across all state agencies in a series of waves, to be completed by the end of 2021.